Wondering What Happened to Wealthstreet?

If you’re in the Calgary area and have had any dealings with Wealthstreet or Dave Jones, the President and CEO of Wealthstreet, the above notice of bankruptcy of Wealthstreet Inc. tells you where the company is at now. I get a few emails a month asking me what’s happening with Wealthstreet, and now it’s official. I’m not an accountant, but according to page two of this document, there are $3.2 million in unsecured creditors, $942K in preferred creditors, for total liabilities of $4.2 million dollars. The asset side of the equation shows $40K in accounts receivable, $4.4K in cash, and $1K in furniture. Somehow this company that dealt with millions of dollars in investment money only has assets totaling $45K. Interesting how that worked out, isn’t it?

The sad part of this document is the list of unsecured creditors; there are 136 individuals and companies on that list – most of them individuals – who are owed large sums of money. $50,000…$100,000…one couple is owed $228,167! Entire life savings were wiped out, which I find disheartening. I feel very fortunate that we were able to escape losing virtually nothing directly with Wealthstreet, instead having the bulk of our money locked up in the battle with the now-defunct Concrete Equities – a battle that seems to be nearly won last I heard. I received a copy of this document because apparently we have an unsecured claim with Wealthstreet of $1…despite what the cover letter says about a minimum $25 claim. I certainly never filed any claim with Wealthstreet.

Worth noting is that the single largest unsecured creditor is by Rachel Poffenroth in the amount of $658,874. Why is that worth noting? She was the one-time President of Wealthstreet – she held the position when Ashley and I started dealing with Wealthstreet. Also noteworthy is that the second biggest creditor, this time a preferred creditor, is one Dave Jones, claiming $650,000. Given the corporate assets of $45K, I think they’re both out of luck. It’s a strange world we live in…

Logan’s First Visit to the Calgary Zoo

This past weekend we had a chance to go to the Calgary Zoo, which would be Logan’s first visit to the zoo, and my first opportunity to really test out my new 70-200mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens. It was a lot of fun!

Calgary Area Photography: Northridge Photography


My good friend Nate has launched his Web site for Northridge Photography, so if you’re in the Calgary or surrounding area and are looking for a talented photographer, get in touch with him. His growth as a photographer has been remarkable to watch over the past two years, and he definitely has the eye for photography – I was blown away when I saw his very first wedding photo shoot. He does wedding, children, commercial, travel, and band photography.

Are You a Promissory Note Holder With Wealthstreet?

As I mentioned in this previous blog post, for one year I was a promissory note holder with Wealthstreet here in Calgary. We loaned Wealthstreet the money, and got it back with 10% interest on top, and that was the end of it. They asked us if we wanted to re-invest it, and we declined. Others chose to re-invest, or invested for the first time within the past year, and now with Wealthstreet shutting their doors the holders of those promissory notes are wondering what they can do to get their money back. The building that Wealthstreet formerly occupied was purchased by a numbered company owned by Dave Jones, meaning it’s an asset with real value. If you are a holder of a promissory note from Wealthstreet and would like to get organized to take action, please send an email to ***@***. This email address does not go to me – that email address forwards to someone who is a current promissory note holder who is interested in hearing from other promissory note holders who want to take collective action.

UPDATE: The above email address no longer works. The person to whom it went has informed me that she’s no longer seeking other promissory note holders; she’s got a group of them together and they’re taking collective action.

Did Stoney Trail Mazda Scam Me?

I don’t know much about cars. I’m one of those guys that, if something goes wrong with my car, I’ll call the AMA and let someone smarter than me figure it out. The most complicated thing I’ve done on my own cars is replace a headlight. So there’s the context for this story.

On Friday I took my 2003 Mazda Protege 5 to Stoney Trail Mazda in Calgary for an oil change, and after 30 minutes a woman came back to tell me that they were suggesting the following procedures for my car beyond the oil change:

  • Replace air filter ($30)
  • Injector flush ($170)
  • Power steering flush ($90)
  • Replace broken fog light ($270)

I was expecting to walk out spending under $50, and they were suggesting I spend more than 10 times that much! I felt a bit overwhelmed at first, but I started asking questions because it seemed curious that so much needed to happen at once. The broken fog light, she said, wasn’t just a simple blown bulb – the entire assembly needed to be replaced. The car has 61K KM on it, and had never had any of the fluids replaced/flushed beyond the oil and wind shield wiper fluid, but did that mean that both the power steering and injector systems needed to be flushed? I ended up saying yes to the air filter and power steering flush, but said I’d decide later on the injetor flush and fog light.

After she walked away I started searching online for articles related to the topic, and found a good one on injector flushing. I also found a bunch of forum threads where people were discussing the same topic, and the general consensus I found was that unless there’s a suspected problem with the injectors, there’s no need to flush them. It seems that telling customers that their vehicle’s injectors need flushing is an easy money-maker for the auto shop. I’m glad I said no to that. As for the power steering flush, that seems to be more of a mixed bag – some people say it’s good to have it changed every five years or so – which means my car is due – but in general unless you’re having problems with your power steering, the fluids don’t need to be touched. As someone who does computer consulting, it looks like most fluid flushing is right up there with me telling someone the SATA ports on their computer need defragmenting, or their WiFi signal needs cleaning because it’s dirty.

Here’s what ticks me off about this: I took my Mazda back to a Mazda dealership rather than taking it to Mr. Lube or another quick-change shop because I wanted, and expected, by-the-book Mazda maintenance. Meaning that unless Mazda themselves recommended a certain procedure in the owners manual, the Mazda dealership wouldn’t recommend anything different. When I went up to pay for the procedures, I told the woman at the desk I wasn’t sure I’d ever come back to this dealership again for servicing. I wasn’t rude or angry when I said it. She asked me why, and I explained that after some research I didn’t believe that they were giving me sound advice about what really needed to be done on my car. She replied that merely relays what the technicians tell her.

The kicker? When I drove home and pulled into the garage I turned all my lights off and on, including the fog lights, and they all work just fine. I find it hard to believe that Stoney Trail Mazda would be so bold as to tell a customer a light isn’t working if it is, but on the other hand I’m baffled as to why they thought it wasn’t working.

So, any car experts out there care to weigh in on this?

Il Centro Restaurant in Calgary: Order Take Out

Last night I had one of the most unpleasent dining experience in my entire life, and I’m creating this entry solely for the sake of someone Googling the name of the restaurant (Il Centro in Calgary, Alberta) and perhaps finding this blog entry. I won’t go into the boring details, but the short version is that the pizza is really tasty, but the restaurant staff is awful.

The one female waitress that was working last night was incredibly rude and gave us terrible service throughout our visit. The food was excellent – we tried the Calamari and three different types of pizza – but I’d never step foot back in that place again. It was insufferably hot even though it was cool outside, and we were completely ignored until I caught the waitress and asked if we could order – and she looked at me like I was a stranger on the street accosting her. My advice? If you’re interested in tasting the food at Il Centro in Calgary, order take out. Their pizza is great, but it’s not worth the awful dining experience required to get it.

From Warm to Snow in the Blink of an Eye

As residents here say “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change.” On Saturday, it was bright, sunny, and quite warm at 10.5 Celsius(50.9 Fahrenheit). All the snow in my back yard was melted, and the streets were slushy with melting snow. Sunday I woke up to this:



Above: Our driveway is buried somewhere underneath all that.


Above: 45 minutes later, Ashley and I finished clearing the driveway off.


Above: The pile of snow that my neighbour and I contribute to. I suspect it won’t melt until August. 😉

A Beautiful Calgary October Sunset

On her way home from work, Ashley’s usually able to see the sunset peeking over the horizon line near our house, and it’s not uncommon for her to mention a beautiful sunset happening shortly after she steps into our house. On October the 22nd, the sunset was absolutely stunning – the deep orange hues, including a strong burnt umber colour, was just breathtaking.

The Calgary Cladding Miracle by Edge Xterior & Development Group

Here’s the thing about me: I’m really not a “handyman” fix-it type of guy. I am with technology, and most types of electronics, but when it comes to yard work or home maintenance, I really don’t enjoy it, nor am I very experienced at it. So that’s my excuse for the incredibly poor shape the back deck on our house was in as of a few months ago. We’ve been in this house for seven years, and good old Bay West Homes decided that painting our wood was better than staining it – so guess what paint does over time? Yeah, it peels and looks ugly.

If I would have known better, I would have insisted asked that they stain the wood instead. Last year I bought some paint and a brush to attempt to tackle the problem, but I did it too late in the season so I had to wait until this year to start. After the snow thawed this year, the wood on the deck looked 200% worse than it did the previous year – this seemed to be the tipping point for peeling. Wittness the horror…

I was going to sand and paint it, but my father in law recommended a process whereby someone (usually a siding company) wraps the wood in aluminum. It took a few phone calls, and a few poor explanations of what I wanted, before I learned that the process was called “cladding”. I found a Calgary-based company called Edge Xteriors who did the process, and they were fairly affordable compared to the quote I received from another company. Check out how good my deck looked after the cladding process:

I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner! If you’ve got a peeling paint problem, and want a maintenance-free way of fixing the issue, cladding is your answer. Continue reading The Calgary Cladding Miracle by Edge Xterior & Development Group

Calgary Rocked by Storm: Flooding, Lightning and Fires

Last night (June 5th) around 7 pm, a fierce rain came pouring down from the clouds, and within an hour the sky was alight with flashes from lightning. The thunder was booming, and I working on editing some photos from a recent exotic car event I photographed on Sunday. We had a brief power outage, and I expected my three UPS units in my office to do their jobs. When the power outage was over less than one second after it started, only one of my computers was left standing. Hrmph. What went wrong? They say there’s nothing like an emergency to test how ready you really are, and this certainly proved that I wasn’t ready for a power outage from a technology standpoint. I sat on the floor and started to examine which power cables went where. Much to my surprise I had accidentally connected two PCs to the same UPS, and it couldn’t handle the load. While this was going on, another two outages happened. I re-wired things so that two of my UPS’ only had one PC and one monitor connected to it, and my main workstation UPS (a brand new APC XS 1300 with a slick LCD display telling me current load levels and power draw) had the guts to take two PCs and two 24″ LCD displays.

I turned on the other two PCs and sat back with a satisfied grin thinking “Ok, bring it on, I’m ready now!”. I didn’t have to wait long, because the next outage hit a few minutes later. This time only one of my PCs blinked off, but I was expecting none of them to shut down. I took at look at the UPS it was connected to and it turns out that I bought a wussy one that could only handle 200 watts of draw – and I bet I was pulling just over that, around 250 or 275 watts. I turned off that PC and resumed work on my main workstation. Four more power outages happened, but all of my back-room gear (cable modem, WiFi router, switches, etc.) were all holding up because they were split up among two more UPS units. I have six UPS units in my home.

The thunder continued to boom, over and over, and the lightning strikes blazed in the sky. I started to notice the odour of smoke, but I didn’t think anything of it (idiot that I am). Ashley told me that there was a house on fire down the street from us, and I couldn’t believe it! I looked out my walk-out basement window and sure enough, amidst the sheets of falling rain there was thick black smoke rising from a house just a few homes down from us. When you see something like that, it’s a strange sensation. I thought “Ok, fire in the rain, this can’t last long, we’re not in any danger.” (Well, actually, I think my first thought was “HOLY CRAP, WHAT THE HELL?!?”). I grabbed my Canon SD800 digital camera, put on a jacket, and went outside with Ashley. There were already police and fire trucks on the street (why didn’t they turn on their sirens so we’d know there was something happening?) so that was a relief that help was already there. That meant though, of course, that the lightning strike that started the fire occurred at least 20 minutes prior. It’s a bit scary to think that there was a blazing fire a few hundred feet from my home and I had no clue.

Since the fire was on the back side of the house, we walked to our back yard to get a better vantage point. Boy did we ever!


Our neighbour two houses over, only two houses away from the fire, was out on her balcony and she told us that the three people living in the house were ok, they got out safe, and they were across the street in another house. Once I heard that, I felt free to take pictures of the fire – I felt that if someone was hurt or killed in the fire, me snapping pictures would be insulting (even if the people in question never heard about it). Some might argue that the loss of personal property is also an injury of a sort, but property damage pales in comparison to the loss of a human life.

There are a few more pictures of the fire in this photo gallery. We watched the fire fighters spraying the fire from the ground with a single hose for a while, and it only seemed to be getting worse. I don’t know much about fire fighting, but what they were doing didn’t seem to be doing much good. At that point it might have been more about containment than actually trying to put it out. What’s amazing of course is that it was still pouring rain, and the fire was blazing. Our neighbours (Ken and Adrian) on the opposite side (away from the fire) came out and we were discussing the situation with them. When he heard about the fire Ken wisely moved his work truck – which is full of compressed gas – down a block, just in case. I didn’t think we needed to worry about evacuating yet, because it would take a strong wind and a cessation of the rain to make things more dangerous. I noticed that someone had parked a car on our driveway, so I pulled my other car out onto the driveway just in case we needed to drive out of there. Here are a couple more pictures of the fire fighters:



Did I mention the insane flooding? Below is a picture of the green space behind our house – and no, it doesn’t normally come with a lake. There are storm drains there act as a pressure release for water being drained in other parts of the area, so it comes slamming up fast and in 30 minutes it was full. Our house is thankfully about 20 feet above this, so there’s little fear of flooding.


This morning I went out to see what the house looked like, and thankfully it didn’t look like it spread or did enough damage to collapse the roof in. I can’t imagine what the house looks like on the inside though, I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire inside was destroyed by fire. I know nothing about building repair, so would damage like this be repaired with a new roof? Or would they rip the house down to the foundation and build a new house? Calgary is undergoing a massive boom right now – house prices have doubled from what they were five years ago – so I hope the family in question can get the help they need and fast.


Oh and remember the flooded green space above? Here’s what it’s supposed to look like (photo taken this morning at 6:30 am):


How did my fair city fare elsewhere? Well…not so good. The amount of water caused all manner of problems (note that I didn’t take any of these pictures below):




See that yellow truck under the bridge? It’s free floating – I bet the water was 20 feet deep. Now, to be fair, this was no Katrina-level disaster. On the other hand, Calgary is remarkably unable to deal with water problems because we have so many low-land points and little to no drainage – so even a moderate water problem causes problems. Kind of like when five snowflakes fall in Seattle. 😉 We can deal with six feet of snow easier than 12 inches of water.

Last night Ashley and I had some good discussions about what we’d do if our house caught on fire. Given that all of our photos, music, and data is backed up off-site (via Carbonite) we decided we’d grab our dog, my laptop, and a few important documents and that’s it. Everything else can be replaced. Although now that I think about it, I don’t have an inventory of our DVD collection, and those aren’t ripped to a digital format, so replacing all of them might be difficult. A flaw in my plan! Emergencies like this sure do make you think though…

Be sure to check out the full photo gallery for all my pictures of the fire and collected images of flooding around Calgary – I’ll be adding to it as I find more images of what our city went through last night.

UPDATE: I thought it would be worth pointing out that I no longer use Carbonite because, frankly, they suck. Here’s an article why (short version: they don’t back up all your files). I was quite happy with Mozy for a while, then they jacked my rates by 1390% and I left them in a hurry. I’m currently using Crashplan and their pricing and service level is great.